Friday, August 24, 2007

How Got Its Name is a new online news service, specializing in personalized news. It does this by keeping track of what stories users read and like, and serving them similar stories in subsequent visits. Thoof has badges which can go on the web or blog pages of submitted stories, and display the story's Thoof ranking.

There has been much speculation about how the name "Thoof" originated...

As fate would have it, I was waiting to cross the street at a quiet intersection in Manhattan earlier this evening, and a man standing next to me started telling me this story....

One day, on a crisp autumn morning at an outdoor cafe, the designers of Thoof were discussing what name they should give their new creation. They understood the importance of coming up with a name which was at once memorable, but distinctive, and sounded like nothing else. They tried out all sorts of possibilities, but could not come up with a name they all liked.

As they were preparing to leave, and get on with other business, they were joined by a man, with a strange accent. He looked familiar, yet none of the group could say where they had seen him. He spoke of the new system they were designing, and how important it would become. He explained how crucial the organization and personalization of news was in this new age, in which there was so much news, and so little time to read, see, or hear it. He spoke with an odd, intense conviction, as if he knew this to be true, from the experience of many years.

The designers listened with rapt attention. Finally, however, one of them spoke to the visitor. "You speak wonderfully about our new system. But it lacks a name. Might you-"

But the stranger rose, smiled, and before the question was finished, he had vanished. All that was left of him was a rustle of leaves, and a thoof-

I wanted to learn more. But a honking taxi distracted me for a moment. And when I turned back to the man who had been standing next to me, talking, he was gone too ... with just a thoof.

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